The Quest for the Good Enough Resume

I have seen many job seekers lose their way when it comes to resumes. Their determined efforts to craft compelling content get swallowed up by the quest for perfection, a dubious goal for such a subjective process.

While everyone will have an opinion on your resume, there are (thankfully) widely agreed upon best practices that can release you from the shackles of resume perfection, and get you on to your next job.

Begin by understanding and applying these resume guidelines:

  • Resume precision (different from perfection) comes by targeting the employer’s need. Find clues in the job posting. Identify 3-5 key requirements that you strongly match. Point all your content towards this bullseye.
  • By highlighting accomplishments that are anchored in quantifiable results you will present yourself as an asset to their company – not just someone looking for a job.
  • In a fast moving world, your resume must be built for speed and economy. Use your words mindfully and make your case quickly with short, punchy sentences. Exclude all that lies outside your target.
  • Complete your efforts for relevance by researching resumes in your industry to uncover industry-specific formatting or jargon to punctuate your targeting. An excellent tactic is to attend a local industry association where members often perform resume reviews. Receiving feedback from a colleague in your industry will serve as the finishing polish for your document.

I’ve seen that when job seekers commit to these practices, their resume efforts benefit in the short term with improved read-ability and impact. In the long term, they’re able to rapidly turn out effective resumes when timing is critical.

The final suggestion is more on the intuitive side. Know when you have done enough. Your resume is simply one of the tools that will aid you in your search. Trusting that you have followed these key principles will give you the confidence to get out and meet the people who are looking for candidates like you. When you meet them, you’ll have a first-rate resume to offer.

How do you know when you have done “enough?” Is there a principle that you always follow with your resumes? Share your expertise in the comments below.

Jim Dowling
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